NEWS- Parents beware: White man's wife speaks out
On a bitter January day, Elisha Strom appears in federal court wearing a low-cut camisole and scarf to watch her husband, Kevin Strom, plead guilty to one count of possession of child pornography.
Afterward, at C'ville Coffee, the Hook has a better opportunity to check out her tattoos: "Revolting" in vertical print down her right arm, and beside that, a woman strung up with strings like a puppet. On her right shoulder is Celtic knotwork in green; a similar image adorns her left arm.
"You aren't going to make fun of my tattoos, are you?" she asks.
Elisha is around 32– she won't say exactly how old– with long red hair. She grew up in West Virginia, where someone in the white nationalist movement introduced her to Kevin Strom, now 51. "We fell in love," she says.
Despite the difference in their ages, Elisha and Kevin Strom were the "it" couple of the white separatist movement when they married in 2000. Kevin was known as the intellectual heir to William Pierce and the organization he founded at the National Alliance compound in Hillsboro, West Virginia.
But after she discovered a trove of pornography on her husband's computer, Elisha found herself in the position of a witness, vilified by some separatists unhappy with the jailing of their leader. And she changed– slightly.
"I still consider myself a white nationalist, but I don't consider myself part of that organization anymore," she says. "I don't want to be associated with a group that thinks a pedophile is okay."
She also says she would never call herself a racist.
"I want separation of the races," she explains. "I want a white nation."
She thinks other races should also have their own nations.
Elisha, who testified at her husband's federal trial in October about his predilection for little girls, says that "without a doubt" Kevin is a pedophile– particularly after his attentions to a local girl. "You don't stalk a 10-year-old girl and say you're not acting on that," she says.
Trial evidence also included a contract Strom signed in which he promised to get counseling until he was cured of pedophilia. However, at that same trial, Judge Norman Moon dismissed enticement of a minor and witness intimidation charges– Elisha being the witness– against Strom.
As for his guilty plea to child porn possession, "I am absolutely shocked," Elisha says. "I thought he'd fight all the way through." And she believes he'd have been found guilty because of the pictures on his computer.
In a June 7, 2007, superceding indictment charging Strom with four counts of receiving and one count of possessing child pornography, some of those images are identified as "teen rape," "Lolita Dreams," "Wings," and "Eternal Nymphets Natural Gold." The federal statute defines child pornography as a lascivious display of the genitalia or pubic areas of minors.
"The evidence would have shown it was not teenagers," she says. "You can't convince 12 people on a jury that an eight-year-old is 18."
Other findings in Kevin Strom's photo files, says Elisha, were hermaphrodites and several non-white girls, the latter prompting Elisha to note, "So much for being a white nationalist."
"There's some debate whether [the images] meet the legal definition of child pornography," says Andrea Harris, Strom's attorney. "Some of them clearly are not. The government would argue they are."
Strom also denies that he's a pedophile, says Harris. "Possession of child pornography does not equal being a pedophile," she says.
Kevin and Elisha Strom are still married. "I didn't want people to say I was accusing him of being a pedophile because we were getting a divorce," she says. "And Kevin was not interested in leaving me at all until he saw me interfere with his little-girl fetish." She says she dreads the divorce fight, given her financial situation, and points out that in his divorce from his first wife, Strom "kept it going" and "made all kinds of nutty accusations."
Women may consider how they'll handle a rape or disaster, says Elisha, who describes herself as devastated by her discovery. But she adds, "No one ever thinks, 'What if I married a pedophile?'"
Strom supporter John Justice appeared in court for the plea January 14, as he had in October. Justice says that in a bonfire Elisha torched Strom's 4,000-volume library bequeathed to him by Illinois antiquities professor/white nationalist Revilo Oliver.
"I fully deny burning any books," says Elisha, who's taken heat for that allegation as well as for her husband's testimony that she bashed him in the head with a telephone.
"I guess I really don't care what people think– that I'm violent, crazy, malicious, vindictive– I don't care as long as they know to keep their daughters away from Kevin," she says.
And while she's not thrilled about "being slandered and smeared," she says, "It doesn't change the fact that he's a creepy little freak."